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RE SOURCES: Whatcom Watershed Challenge Project Fosters Collaboration and Improves Water Quality
In today’s environment and economy, when community members have such diverse motivations and incentives, how do you bring people together to identify critical environmental health issues, come to consensus on solutions, and ultimately create change? RE Sources tackles this question with their Whatcom Watershed Challenge project. RE Sources, supported for multiple years of by Sustainable Path Foundation, is building bridges between people and groups, using science-based information to help them find common ground and solve common environmental health problems. By collecting and sharing water quality data, fostering collaborations, and generating incentives, RE Sources is engaging property owners and farmers to be problem solvers and true stewards of water quality while at the same time lowering bacterial pollution of Whatcom County watersheds.
NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION: Protecting Floodplains in Puget Sound
Why are some of today’s floods the most destructive we’ve ever experienced? How much of the destruction in these natural disasters is the result of policy decisions and overdevelopment of our waterways?
We awarded National Wildlife Federation a grant to map land use changes brought about by development along our waterways and documented the resulting flood problems. This work helps convey to civic and elected leaders the science that protecting natural floodplains is intractably linked to our environmental and public health. At the heart of this project is discovery: Charting what steps we can take, today and tomorrow, to better prepare and protect ourselves and our communities from future storms and floods.
WASHINGTON TOXICS COALITION: Six years of Research Funding Leads to Legislative Change
One of our earliest grants was awarded to Washington Toxics Coalition for a pioneering research study that measured toxic chemicals in new mothers’ breast milk. Its high fat content makes it useful for monitoring toxic chemicals that accumulate and persist in the body and proved to be an effective way to measure exposure of both mother and child to environmental pollutants In 2007, as a direct result of this project’s findings, WA. State passed the country’s first legislation banning a harmful class of chemicals.
Additional funding to Washington Toxics supported scientific research to determine the presence of numerous toxic chemicals in common household products, children’s toys and in people of all ages. In 2008, the Children’s Safe Products Act in WA. State was passed requiring mandatory disclosure of toxic chemicals present in products. In 2009, the U.S. EPA negotiated with the three largest manufacturers of PBDEs (a class of toxic chemicals used as flame retardants) to phase them out nationally by 2012. In 2010, the WA. State Safe Baby Bottle Act banning the use of BPA (a toxic chemical commonly used in certain plastics) was passed.
REEF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION (REEF): Volunteer Survey Project Discovers Threat to Oyster Farms
Biological surveys are seldom completed in the marine world. Reef Environmental Education Foundation, (REEF) is a note-worthy exception. With our funding, REEF trained hundreds of citizen scientists and completed several thousand independent surveys of the Puget Sound. REEF conserves marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.
Thanks to REEF and the work of their citizen scientists, data collected in 2009 was used by NOAA Fisheries to get three types of rockfish found in the Puget Sound listed under the Endangered Species Act. Volunteer divers were also the first to identify invasive, non-native sea life that was infiltrating Hood Canal which prompted Washington State to initiate an eradication program to prevent irreversible ecological damage to a rich estuary known for its oyster farms.
CLIMATE SOLUTIONS: New Energy Cities and a Biocarbon Initiative
Imagine living and working in smart, super-efficient green buildings. Buildings powered by clean, renewable energy and linked by a lightning fast power grid that optimizes energy flows to match demand and supply. Imagine vehicles, running mostly on electricity instead of gasoline, that draw from the grid, yet, when parked and plugged in offer the grid valuable storage capacity in their batteries.
Sustainable Path believes that taking risks can yield surprising results! Our seed money to Climate Solutions for their New Energy Cities program did more than imagine these scenarios. Using a comprehensive systems approach to a complex problem, Climate Solutions’ New Energy Cities program accelerates the transition to clean, renewable, super-efficient energy systems by providing guidance and resources to those with a vision of green innovation. A new, clean economy has become reality in many communities.
Biocarbon Initiative – WA State Leads the Way
The Northwest Biocarbon Initiative is an innovative project launched in 2011 that has established the Northwest as a global leader in advancing cutting-edge policies and practices to store carbon in the region’s forests, farms and urban landscapes. Our grant to this pioneering effort is demonstrating the role that natural systems play in reducing carbon dioxide levels to help stabilize climate change.
Using a systems perspective, the initiative illustrates the multiple benefits that using a science-driven approach to addressing climate change can provide. The Initiative continues to gain traction with the long-term goal of establishing state-wide public policies that have become a model for other parts of the country.